Frozen Falls

It's not often that Portland temperatures dip below freezing for a week straight, but we've been given such a treat over the last week and some in western Oregon.  Countless Portland area photographers were stirred into a frenzy and flocked to the Columbia River Gorge to each make their own artistic interpretation of many different freezing waterfalls.  I've enjoyed seeing many other's photos from the Gorge over the past week, and many have been quite inspiring.  Naturally, many of these photos are very similar to each other (especially given the restraints that the weather put on access to many falls), but every person with a camera still sees each scene differently and processes their work differently.  And even if a scene is overshot, it's still simply fun to get out and make a shot for yourself.

Since my friend Bruce and I both did not have any cold photographs from the Gorge at all, we headed out early this past Saturday morning to shoot Latourell Falls, Multnomah Falls and Horsetail Falls.  Each of these falls are easily accessible and are right off the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway.  We were definitely not alone.  It seems that every other person in the Portland metro area who owned camera and a tripod also had the same idea in mind, and some just made the outing to capture these frozen falls with their cell phone cameras!

A small handful of photographers I know got into some falls that are difficult to get in to, even fair weather.  Others still put their waders on and got right into the freezing water to make their original mark on this rare but well documented weather phenomenon.  One photographer even told me he tried to get up the Oneonta Gorge for get an original shot. My friend Bruce and I marveled at the beauty of the Oneonta Gorge filled with frost and ice as we passed by on the Columbia River Scenic Highway, but folks please be careful!  A cool photo is not worth giving your life for.

We fought mist building up on our filters and lenses during this morning.  Shooting waterfalls is always a little frustrating for this reason and leads to a high rate of scrapped shots.  The mist would often build up on my polarizing filter and freeze.  I found that breathing heavily on my filter to the point of feeling embarrassed, and then quickly and vigorously cleaning my lens with a cloth left, it clean enough to get another set of shots off successfully if I was quick.

I was very  disappointed for Bruce, who overlooked bringing his favorite lens along on Saturday, his 70-200mm.  He's a magician finding fascinating patterns with this short telephoto lens, and I wish I could have seen what his eye saw on Saturday in the forest of rare gorge icicles.  Three of my below images were taken with my 70-200mm lens.  I just love how versatile this lens is and how fun it is to make images that differ from the typical wide angle frames that include the entire scene.  I hope you enjoy these photos, as I may very well not get a chance to shoot ice like this again in the Gorge for some time to come.  Then again, it could be next month.